Jonathan Coles: Boxed in |

Jonathan Coles: Boxed in

Jonathan Coles

An open letter to Postmaster Tim O'Brien:

Sir, in view of the pending move of all the Sundance Plaza post office boxes to the downtown location, this seems an appropriate time to readdress a perennial question about mail service in Steamboat Springs.

Part 508, Section 4.6.2 of the Domestic Mail Manual, which is the government publication that describes the rules of the post office, states the following:

"Free P.O. Box Service (Group E)

Customers may qualify for Group E (free) P.O. Box service at a Post Office if their physical address location meets all of the following criteria:

a. The physical address is within the geographic delivery ZIP Code boundaries administered by a Post Office.

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b. The physical address constitutes a potential carrier delivery point of service.

c. USPS does not provide carrier delivery to a mail receptacle at or near a physical address for reasons in 4.6.3b. 'At or near a physical address' is defined by reference to how carrier delivery is already established in a particular locale or ZIP Code."

With the proviso that it is not clear what a "potential carrier delivery point of service" is, it seems that I, and all my downtown neighbors, qualify for free P.O. boxes. Is this true?

I did read section 4.6.3b, and paragraph 2 does state that free P.O. box service does not extend to "locations served, or eligible to be served, by centralized delivery or grouped receptacles such as cluster box units, apartment style receptacles, mailrooms, or clusters of roadside receptacles."

Unfortunately it is once again unclear what this means. What makes a location "eligible to be served …"? That sounds rather all-encompassing. It appears to be saying that just because the Postal Service could put a clusterbox in my neighborhood, they don't have to provide me a free P.O. box.

Could you please clear up this confusing issue?

Jonathan Coles

Steamboat Springs